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Alienation, angst, and schizophrenia are powerful themes addressed by Kearney in this forgotten masterpiece. From a story by Conrad Aiken.
This movie is part of the collection: Academic Film Archive of North America
Producer: Gene Kearney
Sponsor: Rob McGlynn
Audio/Visual: sound, black and white
Keywords: schizophrenia; teen angst
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Subject: A Good Short Story About Schizophrenia
A pretty good rendition of a very good short story - but the written version is better. I believe it depicts the early stages of schizophrenia - which by the way is what some so called autistic people are. Its just that autism doesnt sound so sinister a term but autistic people as a rule are always that way...schizophrenia usually has an onset in the teens but can begin in childhood and a family history of psychosis is not uncommon. Also, it is a general term used for many different manifestations of psychosis, one of which is seen here. Often treatable these days, by the way, especiailly in those who are older at the onset.
Subject: Great Short Film
I really enjoyed this film. I love the opening and the music. The visual aspects are great! I got an editing idea or two while watching. This is the best vintage film I have seen in a good while. Well worth watching.
Subject: good presentation of a bad story
I liked the music and the cinematography, which is the only reason this gets two stars as opposed to one. As for content, what a horrible piece of pseudo-psychological schlock! If, as reviewers have suggested, this is indeed about an angsty teen's slide into autism, schizophrenia, catatonia, or some other catastrophic mental disturbance (let me add bipolar disorder and borderline personality as more potential candidates), then the writer has presented a twisted caricature of the circumstances of these conditions.
In this movie, the snow stands in for the Devil, an omnipresent tempter who has nothing better to do than tempt a young teen boy to daydream during class, smart off to his parents, and look at girls (what a little sinner!) We are apparently supposed to accept that the beauty of snow is so tempting that it can entice one to cut off all connections with reality. Paul, beguiled by the diabolical snow, grows suspicious of the adults around him and retreats into fantasy.
This movie portrays the autistic/schizo/whatever as a sinner tempted by the devil into rebellion against trustworthy, loving adult authority figures who really just want to help. This is a twisted, disgusting parody of these conditions, which in reality are caused by severe psychological abuse at the hands of just such authorities. It is blame-the-victim rationalization at its worst and should itself be considered abusive.
pauls son -
What a piece of crap! The "Night Gallery" version was at least interesting. This, with its sledgehammer symbolism and TERRIBLE acting, was confusing and frustrating. Oh, I understood it but it was just awful all the way around.
Subject: Striking, Haunting, Beautiful
@LesaWb Sorry, but you. Are. Wrong.
I watched the other version of this film and found it nowhere near as striking, haunting, and beautiful as this original iteration. While I can appreciate the second actor's take on the character, the Paul in this version more realistically captures that odd little boy in the corner of many classrooms. Rather than "trying to look 'weird'", this actor is externalizing the confusion and catastrophic withdrawal that the character is actually experiencing.
If you are not comfortable with the rawness and horror of this mesmerizing little film, go check out the Night Gallery version on Youtube. It's a little safer and it won't make you think quite as much. Despite being a great television series, in this instance, the original far surpasses the remake.
Subject: Vastly Inferior to the Night Gallery Version, which Kearney also directed
I watched the Night Gallery version of this a couple of nights ago and have been haunted by the story ever since. I googled the title and found this movie. It's nowhere near as good as the later version. I checked on IMDB and George Kearney also wrote and directed the Night Gallery version. Obviously, he thought he could improve on his earlier version — and he did. It is absolutely mesmerizing. The lead actor in the newer version is much better. The actor playing Paul in this version seems as though he's trying to look "weird". Radames Pera in the NG version is very naturalistic, which brings the viewer into the story more because you can identify more with the lead character. Go to youtube.com and search for Silent Snow, Secret Snow — it's there in two parts. You won't be sorry. Also, the short story itself is amazing and adds more detail than can be seen in either filmed version.
Subject: Maybe not specifically about autism but is a metaphor
I disagree that this story has nothing to do with autism. The story is about a boy being slowly sucked into some internal world of his own making in his mind. I can tell you severely autistic individuals do live in such a world, to the point of not even knowing about the world or people around them. I read this story many years ago for school and we saw this movie afterwards on 16mm. Back then no one ever heard of autism but I was haunted by the story and this film since then. When my son started developing symptoms of autism , I immediately remembered this film and was terrified. It may not be about autism but it helps you understand the condition fact the word Autism comes from Greek meaning for "morbid self attention" and originally thought to be a form of schizophrenia defined as "autistic withdrawal of the patient to his fantasies, against which any influence from outside becomes an intolerable disturbance" Sure sounds like the theme for this story to me. Aiken maybe didn't know about autism but he wrote a chilling metaphor for one.
This must surely rate as one of the most beautiful and haunting short films I've ever seen. Everything, literally everything about this film is on point- the acting, the cinematography, the lighting, the soundtrack. Far superior to the later television remake, what a terrible shame this is practically forgotten and what a relief that someone has presevered it here. I'd love to hear the radio version too, anyone have any ideas?
Seriously, this is incredible.
This short 17 minute film packs more of a punch than most films of two hours or more in length. The starkness of sound and picture and monochrome makes for a more powerful experience than the later Night Gallery version, IMHO.
As for the end being cut off, very little seems lost. Yes, it's an occasionally "splicey" print, but the final shot moves in and goes to black, and as I recall there's nothing left after that but an "end" card.
cpmcdill [Webbed Hand] -
Subject: very atmospheric
An excellent film. Pity about it being cut off prematurely at the end. Some people were wondering about the Night Gallery version (http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi1932395289/ - starts at 34:00 mark). It is less intense than this one, in my opinion.
Dark Moon -
Subject: Cut short
I guess we can figure out how it ends, but the video stops just as he is withdrawing from his hated mother. The whole movie builds to this scene, and then the scene got cut when the film was copied to digital. Disappointing... :( Now I wish I could see the Night Gallery episode that other reviewers have mentioned.
One has to wonder, though. I guess the smoke did it-- a lifetime breathing his parents' second-hand nicotine poisoned his brain. I wonder how else they poisoned his brain?
Subject: Beautiful interspective.
This is truly a wonderful piece,i found myself in the character...truly longing for the snow.If you let yourself be in the character you can really feel his yearning for that other place.
i have not seen the Night Gallery version,but this short truly stands on it's own merit.
Amazingly a true journey inside the mind and how an only child born with that special spark can slip into his own imagination,sometimes without an exit.
Subject: Not about Autism
This story is not about schizophrenia nor is it about autism. Its horror story about a boy's retreat into total catatonia. Schizophrenics and autistics can still interact with the world, this story is about a boy's total retreat from the world, it has nothing to do with autism at all.
Real Kold War Kid -
Subject: Saw this in 2 different classes
I first saw this in a high school English class in the 70s, where we had to write on what the boy was thinking and feeling.I saw not too many years later in an Ab Psych class, where we watched after discussing schizophrenia.
Subject: An unsettling masterpiece
The Night Gallery version is considered as one of the finest episodes they have ever done. This version is older with a different vibe.
This is a journey of a young boy into isolation and schizophrenia. The result today could possibly be called autism. The story was originally written in 1934 and is timeless. A well done remake faithful to the storyline would be just as compelling.
If you compare this version with the Night Gallery version, it will suffer as the music is far more unsettling and the narration is not the rich insinuations of Orson Welles.
It was truly forgotten. IMDB does not even have a listing for this one (hopefully recitified soon). As a coincident, Gene Kearney did some writing for Night Gallery. Would we be willing to bet that he was the one who introduced this wonderful story to that show?